Comicscape: Avengers vs X-men comes to a close -

Comicscape: Avengers vs X-men comes to a close

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Comicscape: Avengers vs X-men comes to a close

Hope springs eternal.

By Joel Rickenbach     October 10, 2012

From the humble beginnings of this new Comicscape we have now come full circle. My first article under that banner was about the hopes and expectations we all had for Marvel's newest event book. Should we, as the readers, welcome another big crossover book into our hearts and out of our wallets? Would it wash the taste of some recent crossover failures out of our mouths? Could the story it told actually end up mattering when the dust settled? Or were we in for the same old same old? The premise was good- Pit the publisher's two different character flavors against each other- Avengers (superheroes) vs X-Men (Mutants). The set-up was years in the making- when Wanda Maximoff (the Scarlet Witch) went certifiable (Avengers: Disassembled) and erased all but 200 or so mutants from the planet (House of M), the Marvel universe definitely shifted. The Avengers books became the crux of Marvel, and the X-books were now truly outcasts. A lot has happened since that shift- The Marvel universe became divided over the Superhero Registration Act, and fought a War over it (Civil War). The Hulk, deemed too dangerous for Earth, was shot into space, only to return stronger, smarter and really angry (World War Hulk). The Skrulls infiltrated almost every part of human society, and damn near took over the world (Secret Invasion). Where the Skrulls failed, Norman Osborn tried his own brand of world domination, causing much havoc in the process (Siege). Norman's actions linked to an even greater threat- the Norse god of fear, The Serpent, unleashing his fury on the human race (Fear Itself). That's quite a roller coaster of events, and like those rides of twisting steel- they have their share of ups and downs. However, somewhere in the backs of our minds we always knew it would have to culminate in addressing the problem that started it all- Wanda Maximoff, and her proclamation of "no more mutants." Below I'm going to take a look at the good, the bad, the ugly and the end of Avengers vs X-men, and try to determine if the journey was one worth taking. There will be spoilers, and probably a few jokes at Namor's expense (dude still gets around in a seaweed speedo), but know this- Regardless of the quality, they are making good on one promise- an era is coming to a close, this does mark another shift in the Marvel universe. For better, or for worse. 

The Good: Things really are coming full circle. From the Scarlet Witch returning to the fold, and the mutants making a stand for their place in the world, Marvel is closing a big chapter that began with Brian Michael Bendis' Avengers: Disassembled. Whether they had some of this planned all along, or they just picked up the threads now to tie things up, it's definitely nice to connect the dots over the last decade and feel like you were witness to progress. 
The Scott and Emma era is over (Probably). I have to give credit to Marvel editorial- the Cyclops/White Queen pairing didn't look long for this world, yet it's survived all the hullabaloo over the years, and was refreshing that a publisher would let something ride for so long. What could have been a flash in the pan is now a defining relationship for the stable of X-books. I'm guessing it's over, but it lasted more than enough time to leave it's mark in the Marvel encyclopedia.
K'un-L'un. It was nice to see this corner of the Marvel U get some love in a big event. Danny Rand/Iron Fist is one of the more interesting characters to emerge in this era, and fleshing out his world in the event book was a welcome sight.
AvX: VS. I've mentioned it before, but it bears repeating- This book was a blast to read.
The Bad: Missed opportunities. Lots of them. Comic writers seem to be under the impression that if you're doing a crossover it has to involve every character ever to grace the page. If we don't know what the Falcon is up to during AvX, how will we get any perspective? Wait, where's the Hulk? We need the Hulk! Someone get me the Hulk!! It's thoughts like those that dilute a story to the point where it feels like the issues are just character updates, instead of making real progress. It's very clear early on that AvX is really about a handful of characters- Cyclops, Hope, Scarlet Witch, Professor X, Wolverine, and to a much lesser degree- Captain America and Iron Fist. However, through most of the crossover we get pages and pages of Tony Stark trying and failing to contain the Phoenix force with technology, or Thor charging at a giant flaming cosmic bird only to get his ass handed to him yet again. By the time we get to issue #12, one has to wonder what the hell the Avengers actually mean to the story. Sure, they try and keep Hope away from the X-men, but beyond that... If you go back to the prologue stories in AvX #0, the intertwined lives of Hope and Scarlet Witch are front and center, but it then takes almost 10 issues for that to come back around, and by then it's unfortunately too late to matter, even if the writers try to make them the focus at the 11th hour. Wouldn't it make for a better, more compelling, story if we spent a good deal of time seeing Hope and Wanda getting past their differences and learning from each other while the world goes crazy around them? And instead of Tony Stark getting an obtuse, faith-based theory, and shoe-horning in a petty fight between Hope and Wanda, we would get to see these two women naturally end their arcs by joining forces to defeat Cyclops. Instead we get issues that read more like shopping lists then epic storytelling. If there were 100 characters in the book, only 10 really needed to be there consistently. Sure, give us some spectacle, give us the scale, but focus on who is important, and leave all the rest for the Avenger, X-Men and VS books.


Establish your rules. How powerful are the Phoenix Five? Who the hell knows? What exactly can Hope do? Who the hell knows? Can a random dragon from Iron Fist's corner of the world really compete with Uber-Cyclops? Who the hell knows? What can we expect when they all have it out with Scarlet Witch thrown in for good measure? Seriously, who the hell knows? I don't need the super-nerd satisfaction of trading cards with the character's power levels on the back, but it would be nice to know the writers have a grasp of who can do what, and aren't just telling the artists to draw flames everywhere.
Some of the best moments happened outside of the main book. This goes back to what I was saying originally about focusing on the right characters. I said this in my mid-crossover article, and it still true at the end- the scene between Spider-Man and Hope in New Avengers #27 is the best moment of AvX. Why wasn't this in the main book? Particularly since Hope and Captain America start to have a similar one in issue #12. 
The Ugly: Sloppiness. AvX #12 is a bit of a mess. I love Adam Kubert's art, but issue #12 feels incredibly rushed, and makes AvX feel like it goes out with a whimper instead of a bang. The layouts don't make much sense, and do not capture the look or scale of the crossover's final showdown. The last few pages are literally just a few vertical panels that don't even fill up the page. I have a hard time believing there's a deep artistic choice behind those pages, they just feel, well, rushed. There's also some serious continuity problems. At the end of issue #11, Hulk throws Wolverine at Cyclops, who seems to obliterate the hairy Canuck, yet at the beginning of issue #12 we see Wolverine attacking Cyclops again as if issue #11 never happened. Not to mention at the end of issue #11, Captain America is on the ground, but at the beginning of issue #12 he's in a jet. Huh? I do understand the Kubert family did not have an easy summer, and it's definitely not just the artist's fault, but AvX #12 does not meet the quality set by the previous books.


Havok. Yup, going back to all that talk of "character" from earlier- where the hell is the scene between Havok and Cyclops? Was it in a tertiary issue that I missed? After reading the dialogue between Charles Xavier and Scott Summers it only seemed fitting that Scott's brother would be there to talk him down as well, but alas, baby brother is nowhere to be found. Seems like a good idea to have Alex Summers front and center, particularly since he's a member of the book that's a result of all this madness.
The End: So, Cyclops is imprisoned much like Magneto over the years- cuffed and powers dampened. He believes it was all worth it, as new mutants are popping up all over the earth. Charles Xavier is dead (resurrecting in 3...2...), the Phoenix force is no more (Returning in 3...2...), and the Marvel universe is shifting to Marvel Now! It obviously remains to be seen if the new reshuffle of Marvel's core books are worthy, but the talent involved pretty much makes that a given. However, the question that should be asked before it's forgotten in the back issue bin is- was this last era a successful journey? From Avengers: Disassembled on there was an attempt to give the core universe a continuity on a scale it never had before. You can argue that some events were more enjoyable than others, but they were pretty diverse, no? Heroes emerged- Spider Woman, Red Hulk, and heroes died- Sentry, Goliath, Spider-Man's marriage. So I ask you- are we better for it? Is this past era of Marvel one for the history books, or will it crumble in time? Personally, I think I enjoyed the last decade, despite many things not delivering. I like a cohesive universe, I like a world full of characters interacting and steering the fate of their universe, I just hope the next era has more room for the characters themselves.


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Joel Rickenbach is a curator of cult cinema at the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA, and can be heard every week talking film, TV and other geekery on the You’ve got GEEK podcast. Follow him on Twitter and hilarity will no doubt ensue.


Showing items 1 - 9 of 9
stonedtodeath 10/10/2012 6:45:26 AM

I was actually dissapointed with AVX and agree with you about the continuity issues.  I may be alone on this, but one of the main reasons I am a fan of Rick Remender is he keeps most of his characters in flux with what is going on outside their world.  Uncanny X-Force pretty much all but ignored AVX, but they didn't ignore Deadpool losing his healing factor or Evan getting kidnapped from Wolverine's school.  My favorite comic over the past two years or so has been X-Force and Uncanny X-force, sure there was a bad plot line or two (the whole omniverse plot was confusing) but they did tie that story in with the death of Fantomex and the skinned man.  Just one humble comic reader's perspective.

aegrant 10/10/2012 8:40:06 AM

I guess I will wait for the AvX graphic novel to hit my local library cause the price of comics are just to damn high to buy all these cross over issues.

FerretJohn 10/10/2012 9:47:06 AM

I was disappointed with the thing myself.  Marvel said after Seige they were laying off the grand cross-over events.  Too many were going on, in both Marvel and DC, each one turning their respective universes on their ears.  But what did Marvel do next?  They hit us with Shattered Heroes followed immediately by Fear Itself and then by AvX.  It's way too much.  AvX was massively long and convoluted, going everywhere from San Fran to the Kree homeworld, and spanning every book that had any connection to the two franchises plus several produced specifically for the event, for the budget required to buy all the books could've bought a decent car instead.  And now the universe is tossed again.  Cyclops and Emma are (presumably) broken up with both now in prison.  Storm, who just joined the Avengers (a move I thought was a good one) immediately left and is now divorced.  Xavier is dead (for now).  Wakanda's been destroyed and Utopia's gone.  All the mutants who were depowered are now getting their powers back.  The only mutant they didn't bring back, and should have, was Jean Grey.  If anyone should've been involved in this it was her.  

And here comes Marvel NOW!.  Not a reboot I'm told, not like the total mess that DC's New 52 is, more like a bit of house-cleaning from what I've heard.  The one thing I'm a little hesitant on with this new chapter is the massive flood of Avengers books.  Mighty Avengers, New Avengers, Secret Avengers Uncanny Avengers, A X, and I think a couple more, wringing that franchise for all it's worth.  We'll see how it all goes, though I'm sure a new mega-event is in the works to turn everything around again.


jedibanner 10/10/2012 11:48:28 AM

Ferretjhn, maybe a ''spoiler alert'' might help for those who didn't read the whole thing.

I think Fear itself and anything after was a sign Marvel was trying to do good cross-over events but were not able to keep the continuity in check because there was too many players involved.

Fear itself was beyond boring and had no impact but AvX had a cool idea and promised some good fights...but then it just went on for too long and the story didn't seem to follow a stream of logic as different writers would come in and write # 1, 3 and 9. I'm sure down the road they talked about who would do what and how but for me that is the problem.

Say what you will about Bendis but Secret Wars, Avengers Dissassembled, House of M, secret Invasion and Siege all had a logic to it and the players involved all had one leader, Bendis. He was able to put things together, bring in different characters but was all planned since the beginning and it showed.

Fear Itself was just horrible, horrible IMO but AvX was just not well written. I was disapointed in the way certain characters were brough in and just be seen 4 panels in the background (if Cap makes an effort to approach Hulk, couldn't Hulk actually get a few good panels of an impact he could make???)

Like you said Joel, the series itself felt it had only some major players, it should've been written more from their point of view and not advertise that both roosters of both team would make an impact.

In any case, it was a fun read but nowhere near as the events of the past by Bendis.

FerretJohn 10/10/2012 4:47:47 PM

Jedi, you're right, a SPOILER ALERT might have been appropriate.  I also agree with you about the Hulk.  Cap makes a big point of asking him to join in the fight and Hulk going "Hulk Fights with you"  But then what did the Hulk do?  Just hang out in the background and do one failed Fastball Special with Wolverine (I was about to do a Spoiler Alert there but Richenbach already mentioned it in the article).  Hulk's one of the most powerful of the Marvel heroes (possibly THE most powerful), he shoulda been more active in the final fight.

jedibanner 10/10/2012 5:33:15 PM

Well said ferretjohn, the Hulk should've made a larger impact especially now that apparently he will be an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., it would've been the best way to bring that in the story.

But, Joel and all, read the Uncanny Avengers # 1, many things I think that should've been in the last AvX #12 are in there and it's a great read, the art is great but the writting is very good, let's just say Rogue is quite vocal on how she feels about Scarlet Witch.

FerretJohn 10/10/2012 6:23:44 PM

The Hulk, and agent of SHIELD???  No.... just....  No!  I know SHIELD, like all the other intelligence agencies worldwide, have a vested interest in knowing where the Hulk is at all times but even at his most stable, when Banner was controlling the body, I would never think of him as a SHIELD agent.

ddiaz28 10/11/2012 6:23:23 AM

Overall I enjoyed AvX.  It's probably because this event coinciding with me buying an iPad 3 is what got me started reading Marvel books.  Before this, all I had ever read was Walking Dead.  But when I heard about AvX I went and bought all the event issues the programme guiude suggested reading leading up to this one so I would be all caught up.  It was great reading them all back to back and I think it helped me enjoy it better.  

spoilers ahead


I think my biggest gripe is one mentioned in the article, how powerful is each character?  Seems like it kept changing.  I mean, if Cyclops could take out Prof. X with a thought, why didn't he do that to everyone?  And why do his blasts simply knock people back instead of obliterating them?  You would think a Phoenix powered Emma Frost could control everyone's minds at once or something?  It just felt like even though these mutants were powered by the Phoenix, they didn't seem all powerful.  

I did love how Hope and Wanda ended it all though.  Definitely came full circle from House of M.  I thought that was brilliant.  

Throughout the event I bought every digital issue tied into it.  I'll only be picking a few to continue with though since it was definitely costly to read everything.  Probably Wolverine and the X-Men, Uncanny Avengers, and whatever book Hope's story continues in.   I'm just mad X-Men Legacy is ending.  That was probably my fav book of all of them.    I'll have to find a new way to get my Rogue fix.  She's always been my favorit mutant.

joelr 10/14/2012 7:43:11 AM

Really great comments everyone, I appreciate it. Jedi is also right- many of my complains are addressed in Uncanny Avengers #1. Review is up now!



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